2009 Federation of Small Businesses Conference

John Cassidy and Ken ClarkeSmall businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy, but in the recession they are suffering dearly.  The Federation of Small Businesses predicts that over 32,000 small businesses will close this year, with a loss of 150,000 UK jobs.  It was therefore with a little trepidation that I approach my speech last weekend at the FSB's annual conference – this is a huge community that is searching for answers on how best to survive the recession and I sincerely hoped I could offer some advice to help businesses save money on the IT side. It could make all the difference.

The FSB Annual Conference was held this year at the beautiful Celtic Manor grounds in South Wales, home of the Ryder Cup Course. The theme of the conference was 'firing up the UK economy' and touched on the true spirit of the entrepreneur – that of an opportunist, looking to make the best of any situation. The FSB Chairman, John Wright, made a great speech saying that he “would not pander to scepticism.” Entrepreneurs truly are born optimists.

Looking at the stands at the FSB conference I realised how incredibly innovative British small businesses are. It’s remarkable to see how people who have suffered from the recession have ventured out and seized the opportunities around at the moment. Claire Robertson is a great example.  As a former Woolworths manager, she lost her job when the chain shut down.  She wrote a new business plan and re-opened her Woolworths store as Wellworth’s, attracting huge media attention and DJ Chris Evan's to reopen the store. People like Claire are motivating others to view the recession as an opportunity to become small business owners.

View from the back

This is why I was excited to be presenting at this year’s Federation of Small Businesses Conference. It is the second year Dell has sponsored the conference  and it's a great information resource for small businesses.  It really highlights the strength and influence of the small business sector here in the UK. Leading politicians, business gurus and inspirational achievers will share their experiences and expertise through presentations and seminars and will be available to answer questions.

My speech looked at IT, which is probably way down their agenda at the moment. But I felt it was important as a Dell representative to stress that IT can play a vital role in helping small businesses grow. The worst thing they can do is nothing. "If it’s not broken, why fix it?” can easily be a small business owners attitude to IT in a recession, but the truth is that making some simple, selective and smart investments in technology can not only help build a business, it can also make a business run better and save money just when it’s needed.

At Dell, we believe that the right IT environment can have a positive effect on a small business. The conference was a great opportunity for us to offer some practical tips for entrepreneurs on using their IT and to let them know that Dell is committed to helping them save money. I couldn’t have enjoyed stressing that more.

About the Author: Dave Moore